Broadening Engagement in Stewardship

Bring People Together
Source: Flickr user, PhillyCAM

For our February 16, 2024 Friday Forum, attended by 30 people, Barry and Mark discussed the need to increase engagement in stewardship within Unitarian Universalist congregations. They emphasized a shift from an “I culture” to a “we culture” and the importance of involving more people in stewardship at various stages. The Forum also addressed the challenges of staffing the stewardship team and recruiting volunteers, suggesting expansion of involvement by recruiting for short-term or one-time jobs. They discussed the need for a new approach to stewardship in our congregations, emphasizing the importance of making the process more participatory and accessible.  

The slide deck from the Forum is here: Slides

The idea of broadening engagement in stewardship arose from working with Christina Rivera to examine the work of Stewardship for Us with UU congregations through an anti-white supremacy, anti-oppression, and anti-racism lens.   The goals are two-fold: increase the effectiveness of stewardship efforts and promote diversity by broadening the circles of engagement and leadership in our congregations.

Ideas for how to do this include:

  • Listening circles to solicit ideas for pledge drive themes, messages, and priorities
  • Personal sharing and testimonials
  • Faith development classes for varying ages and life stages about money (consider the UUA’s Wi$dom Path and Joy of Giving curricula)
  • Increasing recognition for stewardship volunteers and generosity
  • Active promotion of all kinds of giving
  • Focusing explicitly on your congregation’s online community 

Participants in the Forum responded to a poll about the difficulty recruiting stewardship volunteers.  Suggestions for overcoming this included rethinking jobs to better align with people’s schedules and desires, recruiting for one-time and short-term tasks, and engaging groups such as the youth group, young adults, the kitchen team, or choir.

The bottom line: talk about money, engage more people in the stewardship process, and be open to new voices, ideas, and perspectives.